IntroductionAnother month goes by and Intel see fit to release another variant of their popular socket 478 DDR chipset. Intel are well-known for waiting a while before validating their chipsets for operation with newer technologies. Their validation process is acknowledged to be amongst the most rigorous in the hardware world. PC2700 memory, or DDR333 if you prefer, has been around for some time now. Running at 166MHz it gave users greater bandwidth than ever before. We saw SiS and even VIA launch DDR333-compatible P4 chipsets a few months ago; and we proved just how vital bandwidth was to the quad-pumped P4.
Intel have played it pretty much by JEDEC DDR qualification so far. A few months ago they launched their revised DDR chipset, i845E, to offer support for their 533FSB processors and provide inherent USB2.0 support. What was missing, however, was official support for DDR333 memory. Today's motherboard, the ABIT I845PE IT7-MAX2 v2.0, is based on the newest Intel DDR chipset with direct support for both DDR333 memory and, perhaps more importantly, HyperThreading technology.
Speaking of HyperThreading, a modern processor only ever executes one application at one time irrespective of what you think it's doing. It never multitasks in the strictest sense of the word, as each application is given a predefined length of CPU time. So you may think you're running, for example, SETI and Winamp together, but each is being run in isolation with a slice of CPU time. HT technology fools the software into thinking that there are 2 CPUs on one die, such that multithreaded applications can be truly run simultaneously. We're yet to see the first HT-enabled P4, but that shouldn't be long now as the 3.06GHz P4 is right around the corner.
The MAX series of motherboards have impressed all with their marriage of features, speed, and stability. This particular model adds the two hardware features noted above into an already excellent package. Let's see just how it performs.